February 2, 2011
NASA Kepler Telescope Finds Another 52 Alien Planets In Habitable Zone
These 54 objects appear on an overall list of 1,235 planet-candidates Kepler has detected during its first four months of operation – a pace significantly faster than even it’s biggest supporters expected.
Last March, accomplished planet-hunter Debra Fischer, a Yale astronomer who is not a member of the Kepler team, suggested that Kepler’s first year of operation would be dominated by discoveries of star-hugging, Jupiter-class planets, because those would be the easiest to spot. Only after three years of operation would Kepler begin to uncover Earth-scale planets, she forecast.
Instead, Kepler has served up a list of potential planets that includes 68 Earth-sized objects, 288 «super Earths,» 662 Neptune-class objects, 165 Jupiter-scale objects, and 19 objects larger than Jupiter.
«I’m amazed to sit here today and see that Kepler reaching the milestone discoveries faster than I anticipated,» she said during a NASA briefing Wednesday discussing the results.